The build up to the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Monday 19 September has been quite remarkable, but the actual day itself is going to be something to behold. The planning has been going on for many years, so that come the actual day, everything should go like clockwork.
End of lying-in-state
The Queen has been lying-in-state at Westminster Hall in the heart of London, since Wednesday 14 September and this will come to an end at 06:30am on the morning of the funeral. A little later, at 08:00am the doors of Westminster Abbey will open ahead of the service at 11:00am. The Abbey is the historic church where Britain’s kings and queens are crowned, including the Queen’s own coronation in 1953 and it is also the place where she married Prince Philip in 1947.
Coffin carried from Hall to Abbey
There hasn’t been a monarch’s funeral service in the Abbey since the 18th Century, although the funeral of the Queen Mother was held there in 2002. The actual ceremonial part of the occasion will begin in earnest at 10:44am, as the Queen’s coffin is carried from the Hall to the Abbey on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy, drawn by 142 sailors. This is the same carriage used for the funeral of Prince Philip’s uncle, Lord Mountbatten in 1979, and was used for the Queen’s father, George VI, in 1952; as well as Edward VII, George V, and Sir Winston Churchill.
Family members in procession
Senior members of the Royal Family, including King Charles III and the Princes William and Harry, will follow in a procession led by the pipes and drums of the Scottish and Irish regiments, members of the Royal Air Force and the Gurkhas. The route will be lined by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and a guard of honour will stand in Parliament Square made up of all three military services, accompanied by a Royal Marines band.
There is expected to be 2,000 guests in attendance for the service and it will be conducted by the Dean of Westminster David Hoyle, with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby giving the sermon. It is expected that Prime Minister Liz Truss will read a lesson. The order of service, with its choice of music and readings, is expected to reflect more of the Queen’s personal choices. Shortly before the end of it at about 11:55am, the Last Post, which is a short bugle call, will be played followed by two minutes silence. Then the national anthem and a lament played by the Queen’s piper, will bring the service to an end at about midday.
Coffin taken through the streets
Then the coffin will be drawn in a walking procession from the Abbey to Wellington Arch, at London’s Hyde Park Corner. Big Ben will toll at one-minute intervals as the procession moves slowly through the streets of the capital, towards the park where gun salutes will also fire every minute. The procession, led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, will be made up of seven groups, each with its own band. Members of the armed services from the UK and the Commonwealth, the police and the NHS will also be involved.
On to Windsor Castle
Then the coffin will be transferred to the new State Hearse for its final journey to Windsor Castle, which had special significance to the Queen throughout her lifetime. As a teenager she was sent there during the war years as London faced the threat of bombing, and more recently she made it her permanent home during the coronavirus pandemic. Then, at 4pm the coffin will enter St George’s Chapel for a committal service.
Service at St George’s Chapel
This is the church which is regularly chosen by the Royal Family for weddings, christenings and funerals. It is where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan, got married and where the Queen’s late husband Prince Philip’s funeral was held too. A much more personal congregation of about 800 guests will attend this service and it will be conducted by Dean of Windsor David Conner, with a blessing given by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
Crown, sceptre, and orb removed
The Imperial State Crown and the Sovereign’s orb and sceptre will be removed from the top of the coffin by the Crown Jeweller, separating the Queen from her crown for the final time, and he will convey it back to the Tower of London. At the end of the last hymn, King Charles III will then place the Queen’s company camp colour, or flag, of the Grenadier Guards on the coffin. The Grenadier Guards are the most senior of the Foot Guards carrying out ceremonial duties for the monarch.
At the same time, the Lord Chamberlain will “break” his wand of office and place it on the coffin. The snapping of the white staff will signal the end of his service to the sovereign as her most senior official in the royal household. Her Majesty will then be lowered into the royal vault and the Sovereign’s piper will play before a blessing and the singing of God Save the King. The performance by the piper at Windsor was something the Queen had personally requested, Buckingham Palace confirmed.
Her Majesty’s burial
At 7:30pm that evening, at a private family service, the Queen will be buried together with her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, at the King George VI memorial chapel, located inside St George’s Chapel.
Her marble slab will be engraved: ELIZABETH II 1926-2022.